A designated graffiti wall won’t be endorsed by the City of Terrace as a method of dealing with vandalism in the city.
After a local artist’s pitch to council for a graffiti-friendly wall as a way to contain ad-hoc artwork and tagging from appearing on the property of others, city staff researched just how well these walls worked elsewhere.
The conclusion: they didn’t, according to staff. At last night’s meeting, council asked staff to look into other vandalism-reduction methods instead.
“Ottawa has three graffiti walls which were established with the idea pf providing a legitimate outlet,” said a staff report to council on the matter. “They have concluded that graffiti walls have the opposite effect and that graffiti spreads … to the neighbouring properties.”
And cleaning up unwanted graffiti is expensive.
According to a staff report, the City of Terrace has spent $8,000 on behalf of taxpayers this year on cleaning up vandalism.
“There are two types of activity described as graffiti,” said the report.
The first is by those who consider graffiti a form of art, the second are those who enjoy the rush of doing something illegal.
“Those that tag and vandalize public property will not be likely to reduce their activity or restrict it to the graffiti wall as it is the illicit nature of vandalism that appeals to them,” said the report, adding that San Francisco works with local organizations to prevent graffiti instead.
“Council may want to consider establishing a mural project,” staff suggested instead. “This program could include partnering with community organizations to remove graffiti, and education program to encourage prompt removal of graffiti, reporting of graffiti and to discourage [it].”
Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski agreed vandals should be held responsible for their actions.
“If we could have the community step up and have someone identified,” said Pernarowski. “A little bit of consequence perhaps?”
Councillor James Cordeiro agreed discouraging graffiti is a good idea, adding there does need to be an outlet for legitimate artists.
“I don’t see value in a graffiti wall,” he said, adding a mural program would be more appropriate. “That would be a positive step forward.”
He suggested council establish a “comprehensive graffiti strategy” for Terrace, including things like removing graffiti as soon as possible.
“If you remove it, their tag isn’t there and their notoriety is gone,” said councillor Stacey Tyers, adding removing the incentive, she thinks, is an effective strategy.
Councillor Brian Downie suggested cameras could be installed to catch vandals.
But it was suggested that cameras are reactive instead of proactive, and that hoodies or masks could help vandals evade being taped.
Councillor Bruce Bidgood added that while he thinks there is artistic merit to graffiti, he doesn’t support a wall.
City staff will be further investigating how to reduce vandalism in Terrace.